Clinics: Fundraising for clinics

There are a number of different fundraising opportunities available to those who provide free legal services. Sources of funding vary from grant-making bodies and government funding to direct appeals to members of the public.

Fundraising can be a complex field to navigate as it is constantly changing and diligence is required to meet grant deadlines and prepare applications as well as ensuring new opportunities do not go unnoticed.

In this document provides an overview of the different avenues for fundraising that your pro bono legal advice clinic can explore.


Grant-making trusts

There are a large and diverse number of grant-making trusts throughout the UK. Trusts are diverse through their scale and the amount of grants made; the style of grant-making and the areas that they support.

They are a particularly useful starting point if looking to commence a new project such as expanding to provide a new outreach service. Additionally, grant-making trusts sometimes offer to provide core funding as well, so they are worth investigating.

Over the first three pages there is guidance on how to go about finding appropriate grant-making trusts to which you could apply, and on the application process itself. In the appendix we have also selected some [potential trust and foundation grant makers] that you may consider.

Finding Grant Opportunities

There are a large number of grant making bodies in the UK, each with their own mission or ethos informing the eligibility criteria applied when providing grants. Spending the time to research which ones are relevant and targeting those bodies is important but also time consuming. 

You should aim to compile a shortlist of opportunities to be on the look-out for. Create a yearly funding plan which lists out relevant grants to apply for and key cut-off dates. If bodies listed in the shortlist are not currently open to grants be sure to sign up for any newsletter so you can be kept up to date.

Fundraising databases

Fundraising databases may be used as a way to identify relevant opportunities, those to be aware of are: brings together a searchable database of 4,500 trusts giving over £4.4 billion every year. The site charges an annual fee starting from £340 + VAT (2018 prices).  Weekly emails can be generated which provide details of funders which have a suitable match with your organisation.

Funding Central

This website is free to use for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises based in England and with a turnover of under £100,000 (or £100 plus VAT for those with an income above this amount). The site provides access to thousands of funding opportunities and, most importantly, the ability to search for grants, contracts and loans from European, national, regional and local government as well as charitable sources.

If you register on Funding Central, it is possible to set up a profile which will allow you to save your searches and sign up to the weekly newsletter with customised funding and finance alerts. The site also has a unique ‘Partner Zone’, intended to encourage and facilitate partnership and collaborative working between voluntary and community organisations.

Charity Commission Register

Whilst not a fundraising database, you can use the search function on the Charity Commission's register to assist you with grant applications. The advanced search function enables you to search by charity name, find out what the charity does, who the charity helps and how the charity operates (e.g. grant-making). You can access the advanced search function on the Charity Commission website.

Always perform a search before you make an application to a trust or foundation in order to see their accounts for the previous year which will usually give you an indication of the types of grants they made the previous year, the organisations to which grants have been made and the amounts awarded.

Community Foundations

Community Foundations can be an excellent starting point to research locally available grants and other funding opportunities. Whilst they are not legal-specific, they may be used to explore local funding sources.

There are 54 community foundations in the UK, covering all of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and most of England. Each Community Foundation has its own grant-making policy, criteria and time-scales for dealing with grant applications, reflecting local priorities.

On the UK Community Foundations website there is a useful searchable list of each foundation, divided by region, with links through to each foundation’s website.

Association of Charitable Foundations

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is a membership association representing the interests of all independent charitable funders in the UK. In other words, it is an information and support organisation for grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK.

Whilst the ACF will not help grant-seekers find suitable opportunities, the website provides a list of their members including a brief description of the trust’s objectives and mission, which could potentially be a helpful list to see what is out there:

Voluntary Service Organisations

Many Council Voluntary Service (CVS) and specialist funding advice agencies keep information about local grant-making trusts.

In England the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action hosts an interactive map on its website, which can be searched by name or by location:

In Wales the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) offers a funding search service to help identify sustainable funding opportunities for your project. WCVA also offer tools, resources and examines how to make an application.


Preparing the Grant Application

Once you have conducted your search and compiled a shortlist of grant opportunities to which you intend to apply, the next step will be to prepare your grant applications.

Each funder has its own criteria, priorities and processes and reviewing any available funding guidelines as well as understanding the aims and priorities of the body is critical. Most tend to be severely oversubscribed and there is significant value in spending the time to tailor each application to ensure your best chance at success. It is inevitable that you will receive many more rejections than the number of applications you send out.  For this reason, it might be a good idea to find a volunteer who is prepared to spend time doing the necessary research as well as drafting the applications for you (good candidates might be retired lawyers or those on a career break).

Include any supporting documentation that is required. If there is anything that you are unsure of in the guidelines or the application process, take the time to call or email the trust (if this is permitted – some don’t allow prior contact) and seek clarification.

Make sure you do research about the organisation that you are applying to and do not bother if you do not fit their specific criteria, such as being a registered charity (most foundations are oversubscribed and it is better to target your applications at those more likely to be interested).   If they have an application form then make sure you answer the exact questions that they have asked or if the application is a standalone document then ensure that you cover all the areas they say they want to know about in their guidance notes. 

Generally it helps to have a two page document as a template which you can use as a basis for all other applications which covers the following:

  • Aims of your organisation and background history
  • What is the need you are trying to address
  • Details of your project and how it will address the problem you have outlined above
  • How you will measure the success of your project (and impact on your clients)
  • What funds you already have for the project and what is the shortfall

In addition, it is very helpful to have access to a variety of case studies and/or testimonials about your organisation from grateful beneficiaries and make sure you try to include some of this information with every application in order to show to the funder the difference your organisation makes to people’s lives (otherwise statistics on their own can be very dry).  

There is a wealth of information available to help you draft the best possible application you can. Some online resources include:

Government, Local Authority and European funding

Government and local authorities are potential sources of funding for pro bono legal advice clinics.

Funding Central which is described above includes public funding options in its searchable database. 

The Government Funding search engine by the Directory of Social Change is a subscription based fundraising search engine for government funding with an annual membership fee.

Lottery Funding

The Big Lottery Fund provides funding for charities, voluntary organisations, and projects that improve the health, education and environment of communities:

Awards for All is the lottery grants programme that funds small, community-based projects across the UK with grants of up to £10,000:

Your National Lottery Good Causes” is a joint website run by all Lottery funders in the UK and the site allows you to search for information on current funding programmes:

Fundraising Events

Putting on a fundraising event can be a way to raise money or donations for your pro bono advice clinic.

With regard to the particular kind of event you may wish to organise, the only limit is your imagination. There are a range of ideas you can draw upon, from hosting a play to a quiz night.

If you are in need of inspiration take a look at for a list of fundraising ideas. You may also choose take part in an existing fundraising event. A good example is the Legal Walks put on by your local legal support trust in many cities across the UK.

It is possible to register your charity specifically to receive a portion of the funds raised directly to your charity. Further details are available on the respective Legal Support Trust websites.

For the location and dates and details for these walks see the Access to Justice Foundation website.

Online Fundraising

Online fundraising can be a relatively straightforward way to actively fundraise and can be achieved as easily as setting up a link on your website that permits the public to donate.

There are a number of organisations that can assist with this. We list some examples below:


Offers a similar service, including automatic Gift Aid reclaims. You can also create a dedicated profile on their website so that members of the public can choose a particular organisation when making decisions about where to donate. You can register a charity or specific fundraising event. JustGiving take a 5% fee on all donations and also charges 1.25% for credit and debit card donations or 1.45% for PayPal donations. A basic plan is free but is limited to raising money by text or an unlimited plan costs £15 per month which gives you the ability to raise money online and by text.

Virgin Money Giving

A similar service that allows users to create a personalised website page. The service can be used to advertise a fundraising event or to boost a charities online fundraising presence. A 2% fee is taken on all donations and there is a card processing fee of 1.45% (unless the donation is by text) for most credit and debit cards and a 1.6% fee for PayPal donations. Charities pay a one off £150 + VAT payment upon signing up for the service.


Localgiving is a not-for-profit service for charities and community groups. It is specifically designed to support small, local charities by providing easy-to-use online marketing and donation tools that help to promote your group to local donors, engage with supporters and raise donations. You can also set up your own public profile. A 5% fee is taken on all donations in addition to 1% plus 10p charge for UK debit cards, 1.4% plus 10p for UK credit cards and 1.4% plus 20p for PayPal donations.  An annual fee of  £96 is also charged .

Gift Aid

When your receives donations whether online or at a fundraising event that you have organised, Gift Aid is a scheme that allows charities to claim back the basic rate of tax on donations they receive from British taxpayers. That means you can get an extra 25% on all donations – without extra cost to the donor!

Further information about the scheme can be found on

Consultancy Services

There are some organisations that offer fundraising consultancy in exchange for a fee. You should proceed cautiously when picking a consultant, if you do choose to use one at all. Ask other charities whether they would recommend one in particular and research the company very thoroughly before entering into an agreement. Importantly, read through the consultants’ terms and conditions very carefully and keep an eye out for potential hidden fees.

Corporate Partnerships

Many law firms and large companies have charitable foundations or CSR programmes in place that focus on assisting the not-for-profit sector.

Hosting a pro bono clinic and forging a relationship with partner law firms can be an excellent way to develop a relationship. Whether it provides an invaluable volunteering network to draw upon, adds an extra clinic evening session to cater to a specific community demand, provides office supplies or leads to a donation, this option can be a valuable way to support your charitable organisation.

The Directory of Social Change

The Directory of Social change has a searchable database dedicated to corporate philanthropy which you are able to subscribe to for an annual fee.

Potential Trust and Foundation Grant Makers for Clinics

The following grant makers have been selected because they consider applications from all parts of the UK and organisations do not have to be registered charities to be able apply to them.

Big Lottery

A not-for-profit service for charities and community. This charity is the biggest community funder in the UK. Every year, they distribute over £600 million to communities across the UK using money raised by National Lottery players. There are a large number of programmes, including regionally specific ones such the Awards for All grants (for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) where charities can apply for small grants of up to £10,000. The Awards for All Scheme is intended to support projects which address the issues, needs and aspirations of local communities and people.

Comic Relief

Their mission is “to drive positive change through the power of entertainment”.  Comic Relief has a number of programmes of which Stronger Communities will be of most interest to clinics.  The Stronger Communities programme is managed by UK Community Foundations which awards grants to locally-based groups or organisations which have a clear understanding of local need. Within this theme, Comic Relief aims to empower local people, enabling them to create lasting change in some of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in the UK.  Currently Core Strength Local Communities grants are awarded which provide essential core running costs for grassroots organisations. 

If you subscribe to Funding Central (for free) you will get funding alerts about this local communities programme from Comic Relief.

Access to Justice Foundation

The Access to Justice Foundation’s (ATJF) goal is to improve access to justice for the most vulnerable in society. They do this by raising funds (from pro bono costs orders and from law firms donating unclaimed client account balances) and distributing them to organisations that support those who need legal help but cannot afford it. ATJF has two funding rounds each year but the winter one is most suitable for applications from local organisations when “the trustees are particularly focused on the continuation of local or regional provision of specialist free legal advice”.

Amounts granted are usually between £10,000 and £20,000.

Legal Support Trusts

The Access to Justice Foundation (ATJF) works with a network of Legal Support Trusts which operate across England and Wales. The Trusts support the provision of free legal help through law centres, advice agencies and local Citizens Advice by providing them with funding and other support. Each Trust is an independent charity which raises funds for free legal advice services in their region. They raise funds from fundraising events, including legal walks which are held across England and Wales. The Trusts also apply for and receive grant funding from ATJF.

There is a Legal Support Trust for every part of England & Wales as follows: Eastern, London and South East, Midland, North East, North West, South West and Wales

The Tudor Trust

The Tudor Trust makes grants, and provides other types of support, to voluntary and community groups working in any part of the UK. The website states that they “particularly want to help smaller, community-led organisations which work directly with people who are at the margins of society: organisations which support positive changes in people’s lives and in their communities. We want to respond flexibly to your ideas and energy and to fund effective organisations working to high standards”.  

People’s Postcode Trust

People’s Postcode Trust receives all of its funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It invites applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, the promotion of human rights through combatting discrimination and employability and skills development programmes. Organisations that are not registered with the Charity Commission can apply for up to £2,000 while registered charities can apply for up to £20,000.

Henry Smith Charity

The Henry Smith Charity makes grants for work throughout the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Applications can be made for revenue funding (projects, running costs) and capital expenditure (buildings, equipment). Priority is given to work with groups experiencing social and/or economic disadvantage (people with disabilities, for example) and to work that tackles problems in areas of high deprivation (by which they mean those that fall within the bottom third of the National Indices of Deprivation).

The Henry Smith Charity currently offers a range of grant programmes including:

  • Strengthening Communities: this programme provides grants of £20,000 to £60,000 to organisations with turnovers of £20,000 to £500,000 if based and working within the 10% most deprived areas (in England) and 15% most deprived areas (in Wales).
  • County Grants Programme: this programme supports the work of small organisations and charities in eight counties with which the Henry Smith Charity has a historical connection. The eight counties are Gloucestershire (including Bristol), Hampshire, Kent, Leicestershire, Suffolk, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. To be eligible to apply for a County Grant, your organisation’s annual income must be below £250,000, unless you are working county-wide, in which case your income must be below £1 million.

Greggs Foundation

The Greggs Foundation has a programme called The Local Community Projects Fund which awards grants of up to £2,000 to organisations supporting people in need. The programme is administered by seven charity committees throughout England, Wales and Scotland and offers funding to organisations supporting people in need. Any not for profit organisation can apply (with a turnover of under £300,000).

They do not fund running costs or continuation of existing and ongoing work.

All projects must support a community of interest, i.e. people who are:

  • Disabled or suffering chronic illness
  • Living in poverty
  • Voluntary carers
  • Homeless
  • Isolated older people
  • Other demonstrable significant need

They are most likely to donate to organisations that are based near Greggs shops!

Trusthouse Charitable Foundation

The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation gives small grants of between £2,500 and £7,000 for running costs, project costs or one-off capital costs to charities and not-for-profit organisations with a total income of under £250,000 which can demonstrate a successful track record in addressing local community problems and which work in the most deprived urban areas or the most remote and socio-economically deprived rural areas.    

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Date of publication

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Date last reviewed

Tuesday, July 24, 2018